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Alarm system delay allows crash and smash break-in

Photo Courtesy: Kash Cashell 5/24/2016

SAN ANTONIO - Crash and smash break-ins are catching homeowners off guard and giving burglars hours to ransack homes.

"We had been gone 11 hours on the road, opened the door and just saw this devastation," said a San Antonio homeowner who we'll refer to only as Maria.

She is reluctant to reveal her true identity after being victimized in December.

"They had never seen such devastation from just a regular robbery," Maria said.

When police arrived on the scene there was a large screen TV ripped off the wall, furniture flipped upside down, drawers emptied out and the ADT alarm system panel lying on the floor.

It appeared to have been destroyed and disabled.

"I think they just knew the alarm system was disconnected," Maria said. "No police showed up and they just took their time."

ADT sent this email in response: "Thank you for reaching out to us regarding the situation. The alarm system, which was sold and installed by a third party authorized dealer , was disabled by an intruder before a signal was generated to alert ADT of the break-in. Unfortunately alarm systems can't stop burglars from breaking into homes, which is why our customers should always have homeowners insurance to ensure their valuables are protected in the event of a theft. Per our contract, which defines our responsibility in the event of a customer loss, we resolved our claim in a timely manner, and both she and her husband have released us from liability from the claim."

"The tech that came out after the robbery told us that there was a 30 second delay on all the windows and all the doors in the house," Maria said.

News 4 asked a security consultant if 30 seconds was enough time to break in and destroy an alarm panel.

"It takes less than 10 seconds to go through your house and get what you need," said News 4 Crimetracker Specialist, Gilbert De La Portilla.

He recommends setting the alarm delay for just 20 seconds.

In the interest of other homeowners, the Trouble Shooters called ADT to find out how they might respond in a home security sales pitch situation, asking the technician they sent out about "crash and smash" protection.

"If they try to take the keypad off the wall (or) if they tamper with anything you would get a text message and it would tell you exactly which sensor was going on and what was going on with the system," said the technician.

He also explained this increased level of protection only applies if you have ADT's cell uplink service.

"The older way was to go over the phone line," said the technician. "Those ones, we won't be able to tell if there's any tampers until it checks the system at midnight."

"Would y'all alert us at midnight," asked our undercover producer.

"We would call at a reasonable hour," responded the technician.

De La Portilla said one of the ways to reduce the risk of crash and smash with any system is to minimize the time delay; the time between someone entering your home and the alarm going off, signaling the monitoring center.

The length of time you can delay your system may depend on the company you choose, as is the case with crash and smash protection.

For consumer tips on purchasing an in home security system from the Federal Trade Commission, click here:

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0195-some-home-security-systems-may-be-scams

April Molina can be reached via Facebook or Twitter.

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